Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's OK! I'm a Professional!!

I came home from work today to find a letter letting me know that I have been accepted as a member of the British Psychological Society.

I am a Graduate Member, based on my university years.

Wow! And oh, so very scary!!

I can work as a Professional here in the UK. Although, of course not as a Clinical Psychologist, or anything like that. Still, more than I can do back home in Australia so far.

So I have a real job, where I have a business card for the first time, and I get to flaunt all those letters after my name in all forms of correspondence! And now I have a professional membership. Perhaps I had better starting taking myself seriously. Admit that maybe I have a grown up job, and that I could be on the path to growing up.

As if! Hee hee.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Monopoly Pub Crawl: Part 2

Yesterday the second half of the Monopoly Pub Crawl that I started in October was attempted, and conquered! Albeit over two days, a month apart!

Jenny, Nat, Kimberley, Craig and I gathered at The Blue Posts, which is the Piccadilly stop from last time. It was closed for the first attempt, and we had to wait till 12noon for it to be open for this half of the crawl. No worries, and a half pint later, we followed the route past the Pall Mall pub (which we managed last time) back to The Lord Moon of the Mall for Whitehall.

The Sherlock Holmes for Northumberland Avenue, while terrorising some French tourists ("what is this crawl??"), before meeting up with Cam and Caitlin at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for the Fleet Street half pint (after a wee and pint stop at the Walkabout! It's the unreliable District Line to be blamed for that!!).

Heather joined us here at The Strand, at The Wellington, before we walked on in the cold and now dark to find The Marquess of Anglesey for the Bow Street half pint. I must admit, it was a lot easier walking from pub to pub a month ago - nowhere near as cold as it was yesterday! Brrr! Perfect day to be inside pubs, though!

Charles, Jenny and Liz joined (or re-joined) the group at The Chandos, which was the Trafalgar Square half pint location - and lucky for us that we had Heather along for that change, or we would still be looking for it!! A stop for food was finally needed for those of us who had been crawling since daylight, and of course, Leicester Square had plenty of fast options for us.

Walking through the busy theatre crowd, we were pointed in the right direction for the next pub, The Comedy for Coventry, by Charles before he left the group. I believe Jenny and Liz disappeared at this point too - shame, cos Jenny could have been a Hall of Famer, if she had have stuck yesterday out! Tsk tsk! Piker!

A quick stop between pubs for samosas didn't do us any favours, and the Regent Street stop saw Kimberley, Nat and Craig bow out to some heavy drunkeness.

The last two standing, Cam and I managed to find and finish half pints (I think Cam had downed full pints since joining us way back in the day) at the Marlborough Street, and Bond Street pub, after discovering that the Vine Street stop was covered in scaffolding. Last stop was a little pub off Oxford Street called The Woodstock, with some friendly chats with the not-so-local locals. (More photos.)

We made it to the tube in time for our ride home on the Bakerloo line after completing the Crawl! So over two days, and with a month between, I have had a half pint in all Monopoly pub stops (oooh, except for the Vine Street one - but not for a lack of trying!!) all over London. Surely we can perfect this crawl - I put up the challenge to anyone to do better!!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like....

And to feel a lot like a Northern Hemisphere Christmas!!

The weather turned last Thursday, to be noticibly freezing. Frost covered morning, icy wind chilling your face as you walk anywhere. And you hands turning bright red with the cold.

On Sunday night getting home from the airport, I saw the Christmas lights all lit up in Regent's Street, and Oxford Street. It all seems a bit early for me, but that never seems to occur to the big shopping strips!

Regent's Street is strung up with the big street-width blue panels, with cartoon characters. Apparently the same as last year, but impressive and magical nonetheless.

Oxford Street is done up with white chandeliers all the way down the length of the street - very pretty!

(More photos)

The trees are everywhere, the sales, the lights, and even those horrible Christmas carols can be heard now - it must be getting to be that time. A month away, anyway!

Monday, November 21, 2005

When Irish Pints Are Smiling

Charles and I meet out at Gatwick Airport for a cheeky couple of pints before boarding our delayed flight across to Dublin on Friday, for a boozy weekend with the lads. Hungover and struggling after the night before, the only thing to do was to get back on it, and another on the short plane ride over was in order.

Consulting Cathal about how long it will take to get to their part of the world told us that in half an hour he would meet our bus from Dublin airport. This turned out to be in Irish time! An hour and a half later, and a tour through Dublin, we got out to the other side of the city, and finally caught up with Cathal in Greystones.

Another beer or two and Liz was home from work and ready to go out! We headed out in Bray Friday night, and braved the cold - although it actually wasn't as freezing as London had been for the last two days.

Saturday we headed into town (that's Dublin for the non-locals!) for a bit of an Irish pub crawl, and a quick check on the match scores (Australia happened to be playing Ireland in the rugby - what do ya know!). The Porter House, The Globe, and then Hogans (scene of St Paddy's day for us back in March).

As it started getting dark, we decided to head out to Enniskerry to meet up with the rest of Liz's mates, out at a pub in the little village. When Liz first said we could go to "Anna-Scary" for Anna's birthday, I did think it was a bit mean to be calling her "scary" on her birthday - but it was just the pronounciation of the village's name! Opps!

Catching up with the lads once we had servived the cab trip of through little village roads, things eventually go a bit out of hand and crazy. Anna was delighted that we had come out, and it was cool catching up with Claire and Paddy, Ruth and Eugene, Niamh, Alva and the rest of the lads.

The rowdy group ended up back at Anna's for a way out of control house party, before we all eventually crashed there. The ride back in the taxi to Greystones the next morning was very dodgy indeed!

After some much needed sleep we headed out to The Beach House in Greystones for recovery pints and dinner, before Charles and I needed to head back out to the airport for our late flight back to London. It was so good catching up with Liz and Cathal again, and the rest of the lads. Ireland and the Irish are just gorgeous, if a little nuts!!

Looking forward to a week in detox, with a focus on catching up on sleep!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Keep A Light On

Last night I was treated to Tim Freedman in London, at The Bush Hall. Looking very yummy as usual, he also had the hot drummer from The Whitlams with him, and the bass player was nice to look at too! A treat!

It was an intimate venue (would have been great for photos, but my digi is cactus - bugger), and the crowd actually knew some of the words this time (unlike in June), so it was a classic Whitlams atmosphere. Bit of banter from Tim, and digs at life, love and politics, we also got a taste of the new album. One of the new songs, "Leave A Light On" will surely become a bit of a "London Still" (The Waifs) homesick reminder. Oh dear.

"Hamburgers", "Thank You", "Charlie No 3", "Blow Up The Pokies", "Melbourne", "Love This City" - all the goodies.

Finishing with a couple of my anthems, "Laugh in Their Faces" and Duffy's song "I Will Not Go Quietly", the night was awesome. Helped along by copeous amounts of red wine - very good!

Not so good this morning though! I was fine when I woke up, flying infact. But my hangover hit me when I was stuck in the crush of the tube - just in time for the delays (nothing too serious, just feeling dodgy!). I think that was the only thing on time so far today!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cullum and Wales

Monday night, after sending off my final essay for that pesky Masters (fingers crossed it's a pass, and I have no more to do!!), I went along to the Royal Albert Hall with a bunch from work to see Jamie Cullum.

The Royal Albert Hall is just gorgeous, and to be truthful, not knowing young Cullum's music, I went mainly to see the Hall. And was not disappointed - it's so grand and lovely - colosseum-like with it's tiers and red velvet curtains everwhere. Was beautiful.

The performance was amazing too - was quite a good night. Little Jamie Cullum packed that huge venue out, and had the crowd eating out of his palm with his mix of jazz piano, and a bit of pop thrown in. I am sure he has ADHD! His music was very cool and funky.

Yesterday I was off on a train to the North Western tip (top left of that map) of Wales for an assessment for work - far, far away from London! 5 hours up and 5 hours back, it was a long day. I am getting to see a bit of the country side wizz past the train window for this job. Have managed to visit Liverpool and Bristol, and a couple of little country villages as well when I have been out and about for work. I will need to get better with my appointment bookings, though, and start making these big trips fall around a weekend so I can go and visit these places properly!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

No Excuses in London

Last night a group of us donned Medieval garb for a Medieval Banquet for the first London chapter of No Excuses. This is a party tradition of Jess and Nat's for years, starting in Sydney, and a philosophy I can certainly agree with - when you have no reason for a party, call it No Excuses and nobody has an excuse not to come!!

All dressed up, the venue was down on Katherine's Dock, which meant we had to walk past the spooky looking Tower of London on the way - all very in theme!

Our group gathered at the long banquet table, ready for food and beverage fare. Nat and Kimberley, Glenys and Caitlin, Jenny and I, Cam, Mark and Mendel all dug into the old style cooking and the carafes wine and jug of beer, for a large evening!!

Jenny slaved away on our costumes all week, and did such a great job (what will we do when she's employed again!!).
Thanks Jen!

The floor show went on around us, and as there were about 350 people in the banquet hall last night, it was a loud and jolly occasion. We even got to witness a fight, Gladiator style, although unfortunately no blood was shed. I don't know about the others in the group, but I don't really know what was going on in the show!! All I know it that the free flow of liquid sustinance ended all together too soon, and with the silly 11pm last drinks in London, that was it for us!
(We were dressed up, I don't think anywhere else would have taken us in anyway!!)
(More photos.)

No Excuses is fun!!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Comes and goes

The music one listens to when you are feeling a bit down, or when you are not quite right after smacking your head on a hard surface, doesn't do you any favours when homesickness is lurcking! I guess the passing birthday hasn't helped in that department, either.

All this talk of getting older
Is getting me down my love

I am not majorly homesick, but always when I am feeling a bit off, I want my mum. 'Course, she would just laugh at my black eye too, which is totally warrented and deserved. But still.

I wonder what I'm missing
Think of songs I've never heard...

It would be fun to hang out with the girls for a bit.

But then I have no job at home, no job prospects, nowhere to live (I know I can bum at Mum's, but you know what I mean...), and I have a great social circle here. People actually jump to join you in things here!! Minimal nagging needed to get a group together. Awesome! Plus, I have found a great job with so many opportunities. Oh, and I still haven't managed to fix my credit rating at home, so am not in a position to return to Australia under my own name yet!!
Will you still love me
When you can't see me anymore

The shiner is getting better, although still quite visable. Getting a bit over trying to explain what happened - how embarrassment!! It is quite funny seeing people's reactions on the train and in shops, though. I must be assumed to be some battered wife. I even had someone give up their seat for my on a train! How funny!
'Cause we're reeling in every sight and sin...
every home sick girl along the way

Hmmm, I guess I just need some new music!! Or change the tracks on the MP3!! Hee hee. Need to have a break from The Waifs, KT and Lloydy, perhaps!! Although it's doesn't hurt to wallow every now and then. I don't let it happen very often!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Shiner, elephant man style

All week I have been hanging for the weekend, and the possibility of sleeping for two days solid to catch up.

So last night after drinks at work for our monthy staff meeting, I decided that red wine was the way to dissolve Friday night, and be sure sleep would last on through Saturday morning.

Seems like I had a little too much...although I really didn't feel that bad...

Putting myself to bed, I had a small mishap with my face and the windowsill. Needless to say I have woken up this morning looking like the elephant man, with a very pink, purple and blue puffy eye...and a very sore head.

Clearly I need supervision and assistance with putting myself to bed from now on, and I will need to increase my efforts for finding someone for that role, pronto! I mean, I could lose an eye!!

Luckily for me I have a stockpile of Aussie goodies from my birthday parcels that I have been craving for months. Looks like staying in bed, reading and eating Tim Tams, Twisties and Milo (yes, eating Milo!) will be the order for the weekend. Or as long as it takes to be able to show my face in public again....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Belguim, Beer and Chocolate!

Friday night I took off from work to meet Jenny and the Eurostar to Brussels. Two and a half hours later, we were in another country, with signs in a different language - just like that! Cool!

After checking into our hotel, and hearing the yummy accent of a local police officer (long story!!), we headed into the breath-taking Grand Place for dinner and a beer. Walking into the grand square, all lit up in it's beauty, was amazing. So gorgeous! What a welcome into my first proper European city!

After tasting the wares and oggling at the buildings and the chocolatier in the square, we wandered through the little streets from the Place to see Manneken Pis.

This little tourist attraction is so funny - a little bronze boy having a never-ending wee!! Hee hee.

After breakfast of fresh croissants slathered in chocolate, we headed for the train to Bruges. One hour northwest of Brussels, we found accommodation once we had got there, after discovering that it was a very popular place this weekend!! Our B&B was a little way out of the town itself, and the girl at Tourist Information told us to tell the bus driver that we "needed to Carpe Diem"! Indeed!!

Back into town after a yummy seafood lunch, we walked through the busy shopping streets, stopping at chocolatiers along the way. We arrived at the gorgeous Markt - another amazing square with breathtaking buildings at every turn. Another chocolate and coffee stop to soak in the view, before wandering to the Burg for more gothic architecture.

The canels around Brugges were lovely, and a boat ride along in a couple of directions allowed us to get a bit of a look at much of the pretty town.

A wander through more of the streets and a closer look at the Church of Our Lady, we stumbled upon a little place called Loreto - and given that my 10 year reunion was happening on the other side of th world, a few beers were had to commemorate! Trust a place called Loreto to serve beer in a big wine glass!

The next day we got the train back to Brussels for a proper look at the city. We saw the Royal Palace, and the gorgeous Cathedral. We then went out to see the building housing all that's important of the EU, the European Commission, and then wen out on a trek to talk the the security guard at NATO. Apparently they don't let random tourists wander the grounds out there - who would have thought!

The weekend was rounded off with flavoured beer and lunch back in the Grand Place. And then more beer. And then more beer. And then a Belgian waffle to fill us up before jumping on the train back to (raining) London.

(More photos.)
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